I’m blessed to have friends that work all over the world and it’s always fun to read their newsletters and hear about what God is doing in their lives and the lives of those they live among! This morning I got this update from a friend’s recent prayer letter (I’ve changed the name of the church and people for their protection). I asked if I could share it because I think it is thought provoking.
There is a small contingent at London Church who are not supportive of us going to Afghanistan. One lady in particular, Mattie, has refused to greet me at church. Very obvious, just looks at the floor when we pass. Last Sunday Katie and I spoke for 10 minutes during the service about our future work with AMI. After the service we went to the fellowship hall and invited whoever wanted to attend to come and ask further questions if they had any. We were prepared for the group who didn’t want us to go, or who at least question whether we should go. The main reason they are not supportive is because Afghanistan is a “hostile” country. Mattie was there and she led the questioning by asking us how successful we were before in Afghanistan. Katie asked her what she meant by success and Mattie said that it was quite obvious that it’s measured by how many converts to Christ we had made. Katie was very gracious with her and after one or two more “attacking” type questions, Mattie declared to all of us that it was “utterly scandalous” that The London Church would send a family with two young children to such a hostile and violent country like Afghanistan. She picked up her purse and stomped out of the hardwood floored room, refusing to acknowledge our thank you to her for coming to the question and answer session.
Then this past Tuesday, something pretty cool happened. I was due to speak for a few minutes in the morning at the London college we have been attending during the week ( we have something called Sacred Pause every morning between classes). I got to thinking about what Mattie said, and I saw it in a different light. I told the group about what happened with Mattie on Sunday, and then I went on to say that she was absolutely correct. I reminded the group of the scandal of Jesus being born and placed in a feeding trough, the way he was treated in his hometown when the people there took him to a cliff intending to throw him over it, the way he was treated throughout his ministry by the religious establishment, and finally, his arrest and night-time trial, a complete farce: all these things were a complete scandal. And so we follow this in the “scandal of mission”: something that makes no sense from a worldly point of view, but in an eternal view, something entirely different. So in the end, I considered Mattie ‘s comments and behavior a gift.
We’re back in London getting packed up to leave this Friday. Our passports are at the Afghan embassy in London in process for visas. Their website says applicants should apply from their home country; fine for Katie, and the kids as UK citizens, but a rule-bender for me. Part of me wants to be denied, part of me doesn’t. If they deny me, I’ll have to apply for my visa in Istanbul, where we’ll have to lengthen our 4-hour layover a day or two. Part of me wants to get back to Kabul and join our friends, part of me doesn’t. What the heck, cold feet is normal for anyone in our position. Thanks for praying for us!
After reading this I was forced to ask myself if I’m living a life that is seeking Comfort and Safety or one that is seeking Scandal and Justice?